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 Oral Testimony of David D. Aufhauser General Counsel Department of the Treasury


5/14/2003

FROM THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

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Before the House Financial Services Subcommittee Oversight and Investigations May 14, 2003, 10:00 a.m. The United States House of Representatives

A great deal of money will be required to put Iraq back on an even keel.  But that is not because of 25 days of war.  It is because of 25 years of tyranny � a tyranny that made prisoners of thought, criminals of honest enterprise, and widows of the tortured brave.  The long war with Iran, the unlawful invasion of Kuwait, the elevation of public corruption to an art form, the decade of sanctions book-ended by obscene palace extravagances while the common man lined-up at one of 55,000 UN food distribution points, all bankrupted a rich country in everything except the hunger for freedom.

Now that they have freedom, the Iraqi people deserve the return of their wealth: (i) the inestimable wealth of the oil in their soil; (ii) $1.7 billion of vested assets in the U.S.; (iii) $2.3 billion similarly held in blocked or frozen accounts in countries around the globe; (iv) the recovery of the stolen assets of the Central Bank; (v) unallocated UN-OFF money; (vi) a donor fund from the community of nations; and (vii) the identification, capture and repatriation of the hidden money or previously unaccounted for wealth of the nation.

This last tranche of money is expected to occupy much of this morning�s testimony.  And it should � not because we are Pollyannaish in the belief that much of it has not been misspent in acts of unimagined profligacy; and not because it makes good theater; and not because much of it may already have taken flight.

But rather, it is the right thing to do for so many reasons.  Whatever unfound money there is, ought to be returned to feed people.  Whatever the hidden wealth, it needs to be captured before it falls into the hands of purveyors of terror.  And whatever commerce took place by corrupting the UN Food for Oil Program, and by nakedly gaming its economic sanctions program needs to be punished by denying profit to illegal trade.

This last point is perhaps the most troubling.  Some of the best of our kids perished in Iraq because a significant part of the world did not effectively enforce the UN economic sanctions program to keep arms from Saddam Hussein.  One of the first acts of the Bush Administration was to introduce a resolution in the UN to �smarten� those sanctions, to accelerate the delivery of humanitarian goods, to close the trafficking in smuggled oil, and to try to stem the holiday of corruption that Hussein made of the Oil for Food Program.  The former succeeded, the latter did not.  And the price has been the lengthened tenure for a tyrant and blood in the sand.

The search for the hidden wealth of Hussein and his regime is, therefore, more than a search for assets.  It is a reaffirmation of the rule of law and a necessary reinforcement of the notion that while economic sanctions can be a powerful tool for policing state sponsors of terror or the enemies of democracy, if casually enforced, they can be a lethal tonic of false security.

So the search both in country and around the globe is an imperative.  There are promising advances both in process and in the capture of previously unknown monies.



 

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